As he prepared Tuesday to move into the top creative job at Euro RSCG/Chicago starting Dec. 1, Jason Peterson, 42, was full of high hopes that he will play an instrumental role in helping make Euro one of Chicago's top ad shops. Peterson, of course, wouldn't be the first creative to arrive in Chicago with such an optimistic attitude, only to be quickly forced to confront a less rosy reality.
I've always had a soft spot for Chicago advertising," said Peterson in an interview Tuesday. His first full-time job in advertising was at a small, now defunct Chicago agency. The majority of his career has been in New York. But Peterson said he used to stand in front of the Leo Burnett building and imagine it was Disneyland. If Peterson has been following Burnett in recent years, however, it might be more difficult for him to conjure such a fantasy.
But one thing is certain: Peterson has a big job ahead of him if he is to succeed at making Euro RSCG/Chicago a major player. First he will have to contend with the absence of any significant, high-profile above-the-line accounts. Euro is said to be in hot pursuit of the Sonic fast food chain account, but if the shop doesn't land that piece of business, Peterson will have to look elsewhere for an account that he could parlay into a calling card to attract additional new business to Euro. And new business is what the agency desperately needs to begin to rebound.
Plus, Peterson will have to contend with the fact Euro RSCG's below-the-line business has been the tail wagging the dog for some time now. Absent that, the agency probably would have closed its doors long ago. Peterson expressed excitement about working with Euro leader Ron Bess ("the most genuine man I've met in the business") and with Joy Schwartz and Jamie King, who have been doing most of the hands-on running of Euro RSCG/Chicago and trolling for new business.
But King was a good friend of Steffan Postaer. With Postaer removed from any position of real power, the landscape at Euro RSCG is considerably changed from what it was when King arrived. And sources now say King may not be sticking around much longer to see what Peterson can accomplish.
At Translation/New York, his most recent outpost, Peterson was focused on work aimed at adolescent and young adult demos. He said he wants to run a creative department and work on a "wider palette" now, and he intends to make that happen at Euro RSCG. Peterson plans to move his family to Chicago, so he looks to be serious. As it always does though, only time will tell what Peterson can achieve.